Being an influencer and working for yourself has a string of incredible benefits (not the least of which being the option of working from the sofa). As ‘cushty’ as influencer working can be however, there are undeniably some downsides that come from working, essentially, freelance.
Not protected by company policy and HR requirements, influencers need to be savvy and smart when it comes to knowing their rights and not coming a cropper at the hands of an organisation looking to take advantage. To help you get to grips with influencer rights, we’ve put together a rough guide to knowing where you stand.
1. Employment law
As a rule, working for yourself means that you largely won’t have employment law rights. Even if you are working with a brand on a long-term project or as a brand ambassador, chances are you won’t be entitled to what employees are, e.g. sick pay and holidays. The flip-side of this however, is that being employed in a freelance capacity means that you are not legally obliged to work from the premises of the company you are collaborating with, however long the contract is for. That’s right, you can work wherever you like. Including the sofa.
2. Being paid
Of course, influencers have the right to be paid on time, as much as this is sometimes a struggle. You can find full details on what to do if you are struggling with brands paying late and what steps to take in this previous blog post. As a rule, if you are having trouble chasing a late payment and not getting anything back from your attempts, the best place to go for help as a first-step is the Citizen’s Advice Bureau. As long as you have a written agreement (which includes emails) of the payment and terms, you are perfectly within your rights to go to a small claims court if your requests for payment are continually ignored.
3. Links, endorsements and best practices
Although promoting and endorsing brands through collaborative content is common practice amongst influencers, there are still a few guidelines to be aware of. We discussed in an earlier blog post the ASA’s requirements for being transparent about endorsing a brand, but in the interests of completeness, here is a brief summary:
If you are being paid or rewarded in any way for promoting a brand, you must indicate this to your audience. If not, you are at risk of penalisation from the ASA. Even if nothing is mentioned in your contract about disclosing an endorsement, you still must do it.
Google also has its own stipulations when it comes to collaborating, particularly with regards linking. It is a common misconception that it is against the law to include a follow link in a sponsored or any kind of post commissioned by a brand. This is not the case. It is however, against Google’s best practices, and at risk of penalisation. To be on the safe side, when backlinking to a brand in a piece of sponsored content, it is best to make the link nofollow. This is not necessary for social content however.
4. Owning rights and intellectual property
The matter of whether or not you own the rights to the content you produce on behalf of a brand is unfortunately never a black-and-white deal. It largely depends on the terms of the contract and agreement you made with the brand – if intellectual property isn’t mentioned at all, then you own the rights to the content you make, but it is advised to be specific in the contract about who owns what to avoid later confusion.
In a similar way to the above point, if a brand wants exclusive rights to your promotion as an influencer and for you not to work with any competitor brands, guess what? It has to say so in the contract. Otherwise you are under no obligations to be loyal and exclusive in partnering with brands, regardless of how similar they are.
6. Working with an agency or platform
This can be a good way to circumvent the often tiresome back-and-forth that comes with contracts and stipulations, but if you do decide that working with an agency or using a self-serve platform (where could you find one of those huh?) is the way to go, check their Ts&Cs with a fine-toothed comb. These will not always trump those of the brand you are working with through the agency or platform, but more often than not they will apply.
Striking out on your own as an influencer can be daunting, but there are a number of resources, unions and forums available to help you through. Err on the side of caution, be sure to clarify things you are not sure about, and always check the Ts&Cs!